Posts in October, 2010

Estate Sale

Monday, October 18th, 2010


I recently came to the realization that I have too much stuff. I really don’t know what took me so long. I guess I always knew I did, I just finally got to the point that I wanted to do something about it. I just started a new page on Sweet Peas & Stilettos where I am selling lots of random “treasures” including this gorgeous Prada bag. Take a look and do a little Christmas shopping. I will continually be adding items too. I will be donating at least 10% of the proceeds to children’s charities.

Halloween Howls

Saturday, October 16th, 2010


With Halloween just 2 weeks away, I know many of you are busy gathering the final pieces for your kids’ costumes and are using all of your will power, trying not too eat all of the Halloween candy you bought so you actually have something left for the trick-or-treaters (or maybe that is just me…). In case you are looking for costume ideasHalloween movies for kids or decoration ideas, I’ve got you covered.  And for those of you looking for great books to get your family in the holiday spirit, please check out Susan Fry’s latest segment below:

There’s no event that reveals the differences between boys and girls quite as much as Halloween. For someone with my politically-correct education, it’s been quite a shock.

Girls may have role models like Brandi Chastain, Maria Shriver, and Christiane Amanpour, but when they go for the costumes, what do they pick? Princesses, princesses, princesses.

Boys, on the other hand, try to be as gross, violent, and scary as parents will allow. Fake blood on a sword? A horse-skull General Grievous mask? A plastic Kalashnikov? No, no, and NO!

On Halloween night, I might see a few rebel dinosaurettes, or a couple of adorably diehard Thomas tank engines. But sadly, the view from the trick-or-treat bag is mostly pink crinolines and black ninja pajamas. If Halloween is a chance to live out our deepest desires or fears, I’m certainly experiencing MY biggest fears about the gender gap.

That’s why it’s difficult to find a Halloween book. A book that makes one child cackle with glee will make another scream. Here are a few that stay true to the spirit of Halloween, with ghosts, ghouls, witches, and skeletons galore, but with enough humor to keep the nightmares away.

Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. A scary-looking witch finds herself carrying a cat, a dog, a bird, and a frog on her broom. When the witch is threatened by a dragon, the animals come to her rescue. The story is told in accessible rhymes that are fun to read out loud. The dragon is a little scary, but the ending is heartwarming without being sickly sweet, especially when the witch magicks up a broom big enough for all her new friends.

Spooky Joke Book, compiled by Helen Burnford. What does a monster eat when he’s just been to the dentist? The dentist. What do ghosts wear in the rain? Boo-ts! The jokes in this book are easy and tame enough for most 4 year olds, and funny enough that even parents will laugh. The black-and-white cartoons, however, have an Edward Gorey-like creepiness.

Skeleton Hiccups, by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by S.D. Schindler. A skeleton tries unsuccessfully to get rid of his hiccups. But when his friend Ghost shows him a mirror, Skeleton’s own reflection scares the hiccups away. The humor comes from watching the skeleton do “normal” things, such as drinking water that trickles through his ribs. While the skeleton looks eerie, he has a nice friendship with the goofy-looking ghost.

Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody, by Michael Rex. You and your kids will laugh at this parody of Goodnight Moon. You might even be inspired to drag out that old favorite to compare the pages. Some of the illustrations are a little scary, so it’s probably better for older kids – as well as “little mummies rubbing their tummies,” there are skulls and slimy creatures aplenty. I especially like the way the little werewolf boy sleeps soundly after banishing the goon to his proper monster place – underneath the bed.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.


Friday, October 15th, 2010


Tonight is the hugely popular and very successful shopping event, QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale,” in support of of breast cancer research and education. The event takes place tonight at 7pm EST. In addition they have a ‘shoe of the day’ all month long. Here is the full scoop from their website:

“In recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness month, QVC, the Fashion Footwear Charitable Foundation (FFCF), and the Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY) have joined forces to raise money for breast cancer research and education. This year during the three-hour broadcast from QVC Studio Park (with footage from QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale” in New York City), QVC will offer more than 100,000 pairs of designer shoes at half the suggested manufacturer’s retail price.* Net proceeds from “FFANY Shoes on Sale” and special QVC Shoe of the Day segments will benefit breast cancer research and education.”

Startup Nation Leading Moms in Business

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010


I won!  I am really not one to enter contents but I entered the Startup Nation Leading Moms in Business competition and “to win” you had to be selected in the top 200. Sweet Peas & Stilettos is thrilled to come in at 122. It feels a little awkward to say I won when I came in 122nd place, but the email I received said ‘Congratulations’ so I am going to use this as an excuse to open some champagne and buy a cute new pair of shoes (or two). Maybe next year I can crack the top 100. I do want to thank everyone who took the time to vote for Sweet Peas & Stilettos. I really appreciate it!

I do know that there are tons of moms out there trying to start their own business. I have a few resources on Sweet Peas & Stilettos just for you including: start your own company – tips & lessons learned, online resources for entrepreneurs, modern business cards, chic business card holders, and fabulous work bags.

I want to say congratulations to the other 199 winners and best of luck to everyone out there working hard to launch their entrepreneurial adventure.

Sometimes You Just Want to Say “Aaargh!”

Saturday, October 9th, 2010


As a mother who has found herself standing up on couch (more than once I will admit), holding up my right arm and yelling “Aaargh” (the embarrassing things we do for our children…), I can certainly relate to Susan Fry’s latest installment. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Why, oh, why, are children relentlessly drawn to pirates?

I’d like to think it’s the clothing – the dashing feathered hat, the billowing white shirt, and the rakish eye patch. I could even understand a fascination with romantically rustic ships. And ropes of pearls and emerald necklaces do have their appeal.

But, deep down, I know the truth. The kids want the violence, the thievery, and, above all, the freedom that comes with being a pirate. They want clashing swords, stolen loot, enemies walking the plank, and no mothers on board to tell them what to do.

Although my kids think the words “poop deck” are hilarious, I know they’d find bilge water – and most other aspects of an actual pirate’s life – much less amusing. That’s probably why many pirate books try to tread a fine line. They have to depict the violence and gore that kids find so fascinating, but still be suitable for children. Sadly, most books either wind up wallowing in blood, or else making the pirates “nice” at the end. Who wants to read about nice pirates? Not my boys.

So give these books a try. Sometimes an “Aarr!” can be more satisfying than an “Om.”

On a Pirate Ship, by Sarah Courtauld and Benji Davies. The book manages to keep the romance of a pirate’s life – wind puffing into enormous sails, twinkling stars, and a kindly pirate captain – while completely glossing over the less unsavory moments. During a storm and a battle, for example, no one gets hurt. The sailors on a conquered ship even choose to become pirates themselves. Grownups will get a kick out of jokes that will go over kids’ heads, like the party scene where the pirates celebrate with “hot, spicy drinks.”

How I Became a Pirate, by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon. A little boy becomes a pirate and revels in his new freedom – there’s no need to say “please” or brush his teeth. But he also sees what he’s missing – being tucked into bed and having someone care about him during a scary storm. While the pirates remain nasty and mean, the boy is able to see what appeals to him about their lifestyle, and what doesn’t. He actually makes a choice to go home for soccer practice.

Archie and the Pirates, by Marc Rosenthal. When Archie, a monkey, is shipwrecked on a desert island, he’s not discouraged. Instead, with MacGyver-like ingenuity, Archie manages to build a house even Martha Stewart might envy. I especially like the bed that converts to a breakfast table. Archie also makes friends with an ibis and a tiger, and everyone’s happy – until pirates arrive and capture the tiger. While most pirate battles are glossed over in kids’ books, Rosenthal goes into wonderful detail about the war the animals wage, from designing and building catapults to creating a fake monkey army out of coconuts. It’s refreshing to have a book in which the pirates are actually the enemy, and roundly defeated!

See Inside Pirate Ships, By Rob Lloyd Jones and Jörg Mühle. Designed by Stephen Wright. Expert Advice by Simon Stephens. Yes, it took a lot of people to create this book, and it shows – the level of detail is astounding. Lifting the seemingly-infinite flaps is satisfying and educational for adults and children alike. The book shows aspects of maritime life not often seen in children’s books, such as ships being raised off beaches with ropes and pirates of different eras and cultures. The book does warn the reader, however, that “Most of the pirates in this book are mean and nasty.” While the little cartoon figures look cute at first glance, this book definitely falls on the less savory side of the line I mentioned earlier. Guns are fired, people are wounded, and blood flows freely. You may want to offer this one only to older children.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

Bake It in a Cake

Thursday, October 7th, 2010


Richard, one of my closest friends, just sent me a link to this fabulous website, Bake It in a Cake, and this even more fabulous recipe.  This is nothing less than a mini pumpkin pie baked into a cream cheese vanilla cupcake, topped with cinnamon cream cheese buttercream and a little disc of cinnamon-sugar pie crust! Does that not sound like the most insanely delicious thing ever?!?! Here is the complete recipe for this utterly phenomenal pumpkin pie cupcake from master baker, Megan Seling. Richard and his friends are baking a batch tonight – I hope they save one for me!

If this has you in the mood for cupcakes or foodie goodness – I’ve got a lot of more ideas waiting for you…

Little Passports

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I learned about Little Passports many many months ago and immediately thought it was such a cool idea and company. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to feature them.

I love to travel and have been fortunate to travel to 50+ countries all over the world, on many continents. I want my son to be able to see the world too. I know I will never forget visiting villages in China as a young girl and spending a summer as a teenager living in Kenya.

Little Passports makes educational toys and electronic games that inspire children to learn about other countries, cultures, geography, languages and social studies.  Each month their characters, Sofia and Sam, travel to a new country on their magical scooter and share their experiences with your child. Your child will receive an exciting package in the mail that includes an adventure letter, fun souvenirs, activities and access to online games and activities. Every month they will learn about a whole new world.

In case you need more reasons to love Little Passports, they donate a portion of every subscription to SOS Children’s Villages and the Ubuntu Education Fund to help improve the lives of children around the world.

Louis Vuitton Neverfull

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I don’t know where to begin with all of my reasons for loving my great big Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM. I just got off the airplane tonight and I had it packed with 2 pairs of glasses (one pair from a car wash – the other from Paris – and yes I get more compliments on the pair I bought at the car wash), my Louis Vuitton Suhali wallet, my orange Prada make-up bag, a pack of gum, my Harajuku Lovers zip up pouch, 3 magazines (Vanity Fair, Vogue & US Weekly), 1 umbrella, my nearly 20 year old LL Bean raincoat, 1 iPhone, 1 Blackberry, my car keys (hanging from a cute gold Marc Jacobs key ring I got at an SF Jazz event), a calendar, and a notebook and I still had room for more. Neverfull is such a perfect name for this bag – I just love it.

It is also a great ‘mom’ bag when you know longer want to carry around a diaper bag. Whenever I leave the house with my son, I just fill it up with a dump truck or two, a change of clothes, a pack of wipes, a few Clif bars, a DVD player, a couple books, and Curious George, and I still have room for my stuff too. I love the fact that it never seems to get dirty – I use it all the time and it still feels brand new.

I have the Neverfull listed as one of my modern mommy must haves. Go check out my complete list (I actually have some more items I need to add soon) as well as the lists of modern mommy must have items from a number of other moms from all over the country. If you just want to look at some more cute bags – here are some great work bags for women (including cool laptop sleeves) and links to all of your favorite shops for handbags.

Saks Fifth Avenue - Premium, pre-owned, prized bags, wat

Bebe au Lait

Monday, October 4th, 2010

You may know them for the original “Hooter Hider’ or the more refined and renamed ‘Bebe au Lait‘…the adorable, colorful ‘aprons’ that make the perfect boobie covers while you were breast feeding. I have to admit it is one of the most brilliant inventions for any mom who wants to be able to breast feed her baby on the go. The Hooter Hiders are so simple to throw on and make breast feeding absolutely anywhere so easy to do. Best of all they have such a wonderful selection of prints and colors to choose from. So cute!

Well they have come a long way and are not just producing products to cover our boobs… Now you can find adorable hooded towels, burp clothes and reversible bibs.  It is truly a great mommy business that continues to thrive. Check out the latest from Bebe Au Lait.

Speaking of breast feeding – here are more nursing resources and also organization where you can donate breast milk.

Bedtime Books for Kids

Friday, October 1st, 2010


As the mother of a 3 year old boy who naps from 6-7:30pm and goes to bed around 11pm on a regular basis (please…someone tell me what I did to deserve this!?), bedtime is obviously a hot topic in my home. I was thrilled when Susan sent over her latest children’s book installment with the theme of ‘sleep’. I think I will be buying all of these books! Hopefully they will encourage my little guy to get some Zzzzzzzzs, so I can get some too…. Here are Susan’s latest recommendations:

For a parent, every extra second of sleep is vital. So it’s hard for me to remember my children’s point of view on the matter of bedtimes. While I’m longing for my cool, soft, wonderful pillow, their thoughts go more like this:

“I don’t care if it’s dark. That’s no reason for the day to stop! Why do I have to lie in my boring room? We could go to the park. I know you don’t really need to make those phone calls. Come on, I promise I won’t be grumpy. I promise! Wahhhhh!”

It’s been a while since Goodnight Moon has been able to work its magic for my family. A book about sleep, ironically, now has to be entertaining, too.

At least these books give my kids something to think about – quietly – after the lights go out.

Russell the Sheep, by Rob Scotton. Russell tries to find a way to fall asleep, from moving into different beds to counting stars and – you guessed it – sheep! The illustrations manage the rare feat of being both funny and beautiful. Older kids and parents will catch the more subtle humor, such as a sheep knitting a scarf from the sheep next to him. Younger children will understand the broader visual jokes, such as “That sheep is in his underwear!”

Topsy-Turvy Bedtime, by Joan Levine and Tony Auth. Even though the heroine’s name is hard to pronounce, my kids immediately understood this story – Arathusela gets to put her parents to bed for a change. Watching her cope with their whining and delaying tactics offer a great chance to laugh about bedtime routines. The end of the book, when Arathusela cuddles up with her parents, is cute without being too cloying.

No Nap, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Susan Meddaugh. A little girl won’t go down for her nap. The father (instead of the mother, which is a nice change) tries everything to get her to sleep, from loading her bed up with toys to lying down next to her. But guess who goes to sleep instead . . . .

The Napping House, by Audrey Wood and Don Wood. Published in 1984 (an antique!), this book follows the naptime adventures of a grandmother, a child, a dog, a cat, a mouse, and a flea. A biting flea! The drama comes from the subtle changes to the bedroom as everybody piles onto the bed. Kids can watch the flea move closer and see the sleepy blue of a rainy day brighten with yellow sunshine. At the end, everyone is awake and ridiculously happy.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.